Eleven years ago I played what has now become one of the greatest open-world franchises – in this reviewers opinion – Far Cry. Since I first fired up the original in 2004 I have eagerly awaited the release of the next instalment. With trailers showcasing spears, bows and taming wild animals, it was safe to say Primal was to be no exception. Being what some might call a fanboy of the series, you can only imagine my devastation to find the release date coinciding with an overseas trip I had planned. I didn’t let that bring me down though, instead of moping about, I patiently threw back my drinks and soaked up the suns rays and planned my strategy, playing a game I had seen little of and promised to be so different from what I knew and loved. During my trip I had brief interactions with the rest of the world and doubt and worry threatened to take hold, as I heard stories of the game being too short … amongst other things.
Well they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. When I finally touched down back in the land down under, I wasted no time picking up a copy from a local retailer. Less than a few hours later I was enjoying beautifully constructed environments, violently satisfying battles and a surprising in-depth main story.
Ubisoft have a knack in the Far Cry series for putting you on the edge of your seat with the opening cinematic and game play. The first ten minutes provided me with a tutorial of hunting and pitted me against a predator far higher than I on the food chain … the Saber-toothed Tiger. After barely escaping with my life I progressed into the open world, determined to complete the primary missions early, piecing the story together.
As I was slowly introduced to the main protagonist, Takkar, I found myself stopping intermittently to admire the visual treats scattered everywhere. The design artists at Ubisoft Montreal should all take a bow because the game looks gorgeous. I loved meeting the interesting characters throughout the campaign. Primal’s open world is set in the land of Oros, which is populated with three tribes. Each tribe has a different background and history, the Ull – Takkar’s people – are in need of rescue, forced out of their lands by the flesh hungry Udam who had to survive a harsh winter and the fire loving doomsday Izila tribes.
The Hunt for Ull was my most enjoyable mission, with my furry friend beside me and long-bow in hand; I crossed the poisonous passage, venturing into Udam land. Summoning my owl (who I named Hedwig), it scouted ahead and found an unsuspecting warrior. A quick press of R2 and Hedwig saw to him. Completing the main missions was easy enough, once I had learned how to utilise the powerful animals at my disposal. Holding the up arrow on my dpad summoned my greatest weapon … the Owl. With abilities including marking enemies, dropping berserk or sting bombs on them or even simply nudging them the right way off the edge of a platform, they were so conveniently standing near. With the Owl, coupled with a rare Saber-toothed tiger, I became a formidable foe, terrorising and destroying those in my path. I became the Apex Predator, long before I unlocked the coveted platinum which shares the same name.
One aspect I loved about this game was the language; an entirely original one has been created. Normally subtitles annoy me and are the first thing I switch off in a game, but hats off to team that worked so hard to bring this to life. The language mixed with the interesting characters and animated expressions somehow didn’t frustrate me, instead they had the opposite effect. Lush forests, amazing waterfalls, streams and rivers and the attention to detail inside caves is nothing short of remarkable. All of the animal behaviours and attacks have been done well, particularly the Owl’s stealthy kills. Takkar’s ability to navigate down steep hills and cliffs was super cool. Not new to open world and large scale RPG’s, I’m no stranger to taking advantage of a short cut. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see speedy traversal embraced and even complimented with animation.
Once I had completed the main story, on normal difficulty I reflected. It was quite enjoyable and the 17+ hours spent immersed in this world had felt fitting … but I wasn’t done yet, I was now determined to get that special trophy – The Apex Predator. I’ll save the details of my final few hours chasing the dragon that is the platinum trophy for another article and instead wrap up this review.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Far Cry Primal. The developers took a beloved franchise and turned it on its head. Rolling the dice and banking that their vision of a prehistoric world would appeal to the wider gaming community and not ostracise their loyal fan base. As a long-term Far Cry enthusiast I can confidently recommend this latest instalment. It has all the energy and essence which makes a Far Cry game a Far Cry game and manages to bring something fresh and different to the table as well. If you’re on the fence about playing this game, on investing some 15-20 hours of your life you need not worry. The land of Oros offers plenty of enjoyment and is well worth your time.
Far Cry Primal is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. This review was completed on PlayStation 4.